Does Mouthwash Really Work? Busting Mouth Myths

Woman Using Mouthwash During Oral Hygiene Routine

In the world of dentistry, it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. It’s easy to read a social media comment, beauty magazine article, or product review and believe it’s true when it actually isn’t. At our Houston dental practice, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and her team see many dental patients every day. We are always delighted to answer each and every question you have about your smile! We encourage our patients to come to us with any concerns or queries because the more you know about your mouth, the better you can care for it! We’ve made it our mission to educate our patients as we enhance their smiles. To that end, we’ve dedicated this week’s blog to busting some of the more prominent “mouth myths” we tend to hear. Read on to have your questions answered and learn the truth!

Does Mouthwash Really Work?

This is a tricky question to answer because it all depends on what you mean by “work.” Does it work as a substitute for brushing and flossing your teeth? Definitely not! The only way to remove plaque and tartar from your tooth surfaces is to scrub them with a toothbrush and clean between them with floss.

Does it handle bad breath? It can, but with a few caveats. Mouthwash works best when used as part of an overall oral healthcare regimen. It often resolves the problems that cause halitosis, but only in the short-term. The majority of mouthwashes available are developed either to get rid of bacteria in the mouth or neutralize compounds producing foul smelling breath, only providing a temporary solution. They can remove some bacteria and provide an immediate solution to bad breath, but they should be considered a supplement, not a replacement, in your oral healthcare routine.

Furthermore, mouthwashes with a large amount of alcohol could be causing more harm than good since alcohol contains agents that dry our the mouth and dry mouth increases your chances of developing halitosis, decay, and gum disease. If you want to use mouthwash in your regimen, we recommend it, but as an added antibacterial bonus, and with the reminder to look for lower-alcohol options.

Should You Always Brush Your Teeth After Meals?

Most people believe that of course you should brush your teeth after your meals. It makes sense that scrubbing your pearly whites could help remove debris and keep them shiny. In most cases, this is a good idea. Colgate Oral Care Center explains, “By brushing right after you eat, you will get rid of bacteria before they attack your tooth enamel.”

However, if you’re eating or drinking high-acid foods or beverages, you should not brush your teeth directly after consumption. Colgate Oral Care Center warns, “Foods containing citric acid, like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, weaken tooth enamel. Brushing too soon after eating them can damage the enamel in its weakened state.” This means that if you’re planning on drinking a tall glass of orange juice or eating spaghetti covered in tomato sauce, you shouldn’t brush your teeth until at least a half an hour after, but you might want to brush your teeth beforehand, which will help remove plaque and bacteria that might damage your teeth in conjunction with the acid.

In any case, it’s always a good idea to drink water after eating to rinse your mouth, “limit snacking between meals, and be mindful of consumption of soft drinks and sugary snack foods.” Dr. Flanagan and our team can provide more oral hygiene suggestions at your next biannual preventive care cleaning and examination appointment.

Does Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

Most people want to enjoy brighter, lighter smiles, but many are concerned about the risks of whitening. It’s true that some over-the-counter treatments and systems could hurt your teeth. If performed improperly, tooth whitening can cause sensitivity and worsen certain dental conditions. Delta Dental reports“Generally, tooth whitening is successful in at least 90 percent of patients.”

If you want to whiten your teeth without worrying, Dr. Flanagan and our team offer both at-home and in-office professional whitening treatments. You can choose between KöR Whitening and the ZOOM! System. We will do a thorough examination and consult with you about which products and methods will enhance your smile while protecting your pearly whites.

Discover More About Your Dental Health

Do you need more dental myths busted? Dr. Flanagan and our team can help! Contact our Houston dental practice today to find out more and schedule your next appointment.

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